Friday, 28 February 2014

Observation #12 another re-working of a BARN

 It is Feb 28 2014 .
The snow has returned after a few days of relief.
                       Here goes again with another sort of  step by step set of alterations (changes) to an 'older' work
           Sometime, years ago, I did a careful drawing of the following setting in an abandoned farm yard. I did it on unprimmed cotton canvas-it was a sort of experiment and I've told myself not to do it again.-and I haven't.
          The paint (acrylic ) soaked into the canvas and while it was a nice surface to draw on, painting on it was not easy to do because it was so absorbent-so I left it at a stage where I 'thought 'maybe someday I would put a thin coat of Acrylic medium on it and finish it-paint over it some more.
      Well one thing led to another, the years slipped away and I never really gave up on it, but other work seemed more interesting- more importantly my brother actually bought the  thing- then years after when he and his wife downsized -to less wall space-they gave it back to me
                           The buildings were really great to draw and paint both inside and out. Inside the distant barn was a great setting of an old traditional barn interior with things from an other era of farm life. I found some eggs in the chicken roosting nests that were at least 10 years old- vitrified and lots of that evidence of a quick abandonment of the place.Maybe I'll put those on here sometime...
         ( I really should take the time to at least make these  photographs less crooked -maybe next time)
                       the following is the Painting back in the early autumn of 2013- it is 36in X 48in.

After living with it for awhile I decided to make some changes .I had just planted a young maple with large leaves that were just changing their colour so I drew in two leafless small trees-in places where I thought their shapes would improve the composition.
I also decided to make the two cedar fence rails in the bottom more prominent so I lightened them, thinking I would later  bury them in grass and weeds- still leaving them more obvious.
considering the location of the trees with some green tape 

Lots more changes took place to do what I thought would make this painting better-
What's Better?
I the past when I showed anyone a painting that 'to them ' looked finished , I would hear :"oh don't do anymore to it ................."Maybe that was good advice sometimes but usually I ignored it and never felt that I had the time or the listener really wanted to endure the explanation of  those principles of design -the stuff of balance-eye movement, the sense of space(overlapping shapes -of light, of colour trying for a unity of colour.... and those are just some of the aspects of (for me) making a painting successful.In this case 'better'
This time, unless it's really not obvious, I think I'll just put the photos up - some show obvious "before and after effects". Some of these may be obviously out of order 

Perhaps I should look again at Alex Colville's moonlight paintings  -no not this time

Making the branches lighter  -too light to start- will tone down later

I have to say a bit about this next image ,because as I was thinking about what to do in that central part where that original large dark green "black hole' at the bottom of a rather featureless wall seemed to create a sort of dead space, I received a letter from a friend in Australia. The letter included a poem by Norman MacCaig-called:
   Summer Farm    I'l quote just the first verse
"Straws like tame lightnings lie about the grass
And hang zigzag on hedges. Green as glass
The water in the horse trough shines.
Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines.

A few years ago when I was prowling around near Kingsbridge  I walked through a field on my way to Lake Huron and noticed an old farm that I have vivid childhood memories of.
I made a detour and after an hour of  memory making- picture taking. I was just about to continue on when I noticed a horse trough. It was all overgrown with weeds growing out of it's dry form,and I remember seeing gold fish in that cement I took some shots of it ...never knowing when they may come in handy and  now 35 years later MacCaig's poem  awoke those memories.
 Thanks Shell for sending it to me .
while I was at it it seemed that the rail on the left of that group needed a new angle. with a value 7 grey ..well you can see what happened next-

further changes to the vine and the size of the wooden rails...

 A horse tough from that era was usually a cement container sort of like a bath tub.I have seen them under  the downspouts from an eaves-trough, or close to a windmill or a hand pump.After decades of use the 
    edges became rounded and water freezing in them in winter would sometimes cause cracks in the cement.

This was the state of affairs at 4:30  on the last day of one of the meanest Februaries I can remember- All roads in Bruce County closed yesterday to day? .With the exception of some more texture in the foreground and maybe breaking up those large flat green roofs on the distant barn I am almost finished-maybe another 2 long days .Then it's back to the Old uncle's Diary.
I'm always aware of the possibility of tickling a painting to death.It can happen easily if you don't keep your eye on the big picture-Sometimes as you go along pushing this back, sacrificing one part for another
adding -subtracting -when you take a step back it's an : "OH NO!"

 think I'll call it done for today -maybe read this over tomorrow and 
post it -then finish it -post that -then start something new.
It's OK going back like this -sort of satisfying to do a Lazarus
kind of thing,  and I know for sure this work is a lot better than when I left off
working on it all those years ago
 just noticed that hazy brown-yellow light area just behind the barn-take a step closer and it looks like yellow         ground fog-  I kind of like the 'feel' of it but........
Till next time...........................Brian

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